In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

Thumb green book poster

Green Book

You may actually find yourself getting a bit choked up by the end, even though you’ve been on this journey countless times before.

Thumb grindelwald poster

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While the original Harry Potter saga achieved a magnificent balance between the heart-pounding and the thought-provoking, the Fantastic Beasts spin-off universe still struggles to find…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Primary 106267 1942b

TV Review: Another Movie Gets Small Screen Adaptation in CBS’s “Limitless”

What is up with goofy premises that TV creators take too seriously? Even “LOST” realized its ridiculousness with characters like Charlie and Locke designed to comment on its extremities. And yet shows this year like “Blindspot” and tonight’s premiere of “Limitless” on CBS don’t realize that they should be, first and foremost, escapism. This is not “The Good Wife.” Have some fun with it, people. And that’s the problem with “Limitless,” the adaptation of the Bradley Cooper film that I liked more than most people and less than a lot—it’s just not fun.


Part of the problem is the casting of Jake McDorman in the lead role of Brian Finch. He’s unconvincing as the latest recipient of the mysterious drug NZT, the magic pill that pulled a “Flowers For Algernon” on the man who would be an “American Sniper” in the movie of the same name, amplifying his intelligence and physical powers to superhero levels. In essence, that’s what “Limitless” is: another superhero show. You can almost picture the executives sitting around trying to find superheroes who had not yet been adapted to television and one of them stumbling upon “Limitless” late at night on cable TV. Sadly, what was a story of the endless possibility of human ability has now become a police procedural. Yes, like FOX’s “Minority Report,” the very premise of “Limitless” has essentially been gutted to make a show that feels like it will have more in common with “Bones” than the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Back to McDorman. The lackluster star plays Brian, a man who has struggled to find his place in life, and who becomes one of the special people when he’s given NZT. Just as he’s about to need more, his dealer is killed, and our new super-genius becomes part of a grand conspiracy. At the same time, he crosses paths with Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter of “Dexter”) and her boss SAC Naz Pouran (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who will all use this variation on the 2014 film “Lucy,” about a character who can access 100% of her brainpower, to solve crimes. Once Harris figures out that McDorman can serve a purpose in the fight against crime, the two will solve complex cases. Cooper will guest star every now and then, clearly fulfilling some fine print obligation in his film contract.

“Limitless” is a hard show to judge in that it’s difficult to convey a nonplussed shrug in review form. The show is not horrible. Its production values are tight, and I’ve always liked Carpenter and Mastrantonio. It’s just not fun enough to be memorable. Honestly, I almost forgot it was on the schedule. And that’s a major problem in today’s era of “Peak TV” in which people are struggling to clear their DVRs of shows they actually want to stay caught up on. Could “Limitless” end up a weekly diversion for the right audience? Never rule anything out on CBS, a network that seems capable of turning nearly anything into a modest hit. And it fits with their audience expectations of escapist mysteries with a twist like “Person of Interest” and “Elementary." Still, the ceilingboth creatively and commerciallyfor a show with a pilot as mediocre as this one seems, sorry to say, limited. 


Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

In the '90s, Batman was at its best in Mask of the Phantasm

An appreciation of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm as its 25th anniversary approaches.

Jughead, J’Adore

An ode to Jughead Jones.

Trash and Art: Critics on/of Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael A follow-up on contrarian criticism, from an Artforum section published in 2002, afte...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus